Milanese fashion embraces grace and sensuality with such finesse that Milan Fashion Week feels like a city-wide showcase of its natural style. The spring/summer ’12 collections encompassed a range of trends—from a feminine, ladylike aesthetic to Roaring ‘20s-inspired details, bustling prints and an emphasis on construction—but even the occasional dark palette couldn’t hide Milan’s enthusiasm for spring. As always, Milan Fashion Week delivered both glamour and sophisticated as only Italy can do.
Timeless linear pattern cuts prevailed at the start of Milan Fashion Week, beginning with MaxMara’s use of muted gold, shades of oak, soft turquoise and black pieces. Leather jackets and blazers were kept clean and easy, while seamless leather shorts and clean micro-minis were already irresistible. Alberta Ferreti’s collection focused on summery frocks in solid block colors or leafy prints, accented by unique panelling created out of chiffon cut-outs. Alessandro Dell’Acqua of No. 21, meanwhile, added blue sequin details to the classic men’s shirt and volume to the ever-popular LBD.
The 1920’s movement was particularly present in lowered waists, fringing and pleating at various collections. Gucci’s strapless and plunging halter-tops met embroidered gold sequins and pleated skirts at the hip. Etro featured several drop-waist dresses in plush prints, which masked the subtle pleats tucked at hemlines. Fringe was also used sporadically on vests, necklines and hems in both collections. At Miuccia Prada, the creative Styrofoam car seating was soon overshadowed by the first catwalk look. The collection moved forward a few decades from Gucci and Etro’s inspiration, but featured some similar details. Silk pleated skirts in a fiery car print were paired with dense jackets with floral embroidered decals.
D&G opened with optimistic, wildly ornate prints despite the sad news of its imminent closure. The collection’s thigh-skimming dresses and short shorts were constructed out of Italian silk scarves that were at once flirty and iconic. Emilio Pucci featured similar prints, albeit in a smoldering colorway than the candy colors seen at D&G. Inspired by an image of Bridget Bardot in a gypsy get-up, artistic director Peter Dundas created hip-hugging, floor-sweeping skirts in detailed prints that he paired with lacy, rather risqué crop tops. This gypsy look was also in evidence at Blumarine, Prada and Gucci. At Moschino, meanwhile, ‘60s hippy floral prints balanced out the collection’s beautiful Spanish bullfighter-inspired suits.
Another recurring theme at MFW was that of the affable lady, polished and gracious. Sweet and quirky Marni opened with clean A-line dresses that showed a charming hint of décolletage. British milliner Stephen Jones created veiled, round hats similar to that of the pillbox, which gave Jil Sander’s paisley looks a completed finish. Elsewhere, Emporio Armani presented a completely monochromatic collection that emphasized craft: white blazers with black trim contours followed by the reverse, a fitted black skirt with tiered trims in white.
In the final days of Milan Fashion Week, designers upstaged their individuality then coalesced in similar trends. There were collections featuring plush graphics on flowing chiffon as well as strong structured pieces with highlighting details. Some designers’ s/s ’12 looks embraced sensuality with thigh-skimming slits and low-cut necklines, whereas others created more tailored looks suitable for the occasional business dinner.
Roberto Cavalli’s show stopping s/s ’12 show opened with opulent dresses covered in light-catching gold sequins. Drop-waist skirts and dresses featured pink and blue prints as well as pleats lined with gold discs. At Versus, brief hints of skin showed through wide razor pleats in black, white and traditional pastel blues, pinks and white. Collaborators Donatella Versace and Christopher Kane later incorporated blazers with geometric cut-away details at the shoulders and bust. Angela Missoni also featured some skin, showing off mesh midriffs that were mixed in between the tiered, off-shoulder ruffles and woven blue, green skirts.
As for the diverse mix of prints and colors, designers continued to present their own unique take on next season’s color trends. Salvatore Ferragamo sent out a beautiful collection of holiday must-haves in sumptuous tropical prints, leafy turquoise plants combined with red leopard. Dolce & Gabbana, meanwhile, seemed inspired by nonna’s Italian garden: red onions and plump tomatoes were printed across long slimming skirts, sweet hot pants and sexy bra tops. Elsewhere, Giorgio Armani presented a cool palette of blues, greys and black pearl, while Gianfranco Ferre kept his power suits and feathered evening gowns mostly monochrome with the occasional inclusion of nude or a bright hue.